Cat-o-nine-tails definition

kătə-nīntālz
A whip made of nine knotted cords attached to a handle, formerly used for flogging.
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(nautical) A whip having nine, often knotted, whipcords, formerly used for flogging as naval punishment. [from late 17th c.]
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A similarly constructed leather nine-tail whip, as used in British penal colonies and certain armies.
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A whip consisting of nine knotted cords fastened to a handle, used in flogging.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
cat-o-nine-tails
Plural:
cats-o-nine-tails

Origin of cat-o-nine-tails

  • So called because it leaves marks like the scratches of a cat

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Cat + of + nine + tails, attested since 1695.

    From Wiktionary